Mr. and Mrs. Choi own and operate Happy Cleaners, the family dry cleaning business. Mr. Choi has been working at the cleaners for seventeen years, and was fortunate enough to take over the business. Though they have been doing this menial work for many years, they work diligently to support themselves and their children -- of whom they have high hopes and aspirations. The family dry cleaning business - the very source of the family’s income as well as the symbol of all their hopes - is in jeopardy of loss, and the Choi Family members must react. Quickly.
At home, Hyunny is in her scrubs. She works hard at the hospital as a nurse. As the eldest child of the Choi family, she carries a sense of responsibility and thus helps her family out with finances, contributing to the rent and bills. All her mom wishes is that Hyunny reach her full potential, hoping that Hyunny’s life does not mirror her mother’s. A doctor husband would redeem Hyunny’s choice of being “just a nurse.”
Working in the kitchen, concocting some fusion dish, is Hyunny’s younger brother Kevin. He is a young man who always has an unorthodox way of directing his Korean-American trajectory. Like his hunger and penchant for food, his eyes are bigger than his stomach -- especially with his quixotic plans. All he has accomplished this year is becoming a huge disappointment to his parents. They want Kevin to, at the very least, stick to one vocation and work hard at that. His mother still continues to dream of having a doctor son.
We know the Choi Family personally. They are either our own family, or a family we know about. Mr. and Mrs Choi followed an all too familiar blueprint: immigrate to America, set up their small business, work their bodies to the bone, all so that they can provide and care for themselves and their children.
Their children have their own blueprint: study hard, get good grades, succumb to every request of their parents with grateful attitudes and go on to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers.
Much to the chagrin of the Choi parents, Hyunny and Kevin Choi cannot seem to follow this blueprint. It just does not seem to align with either of their lives and choices. They realize that as young adults, they have to figure out a way to make harmony with both the Korean and American cultures. The Choi Family members navigate through a plethora of issues, in this day-in-the-life narrative. We see their interactions with their friends, extended family members, and people in their world. Despite the challenges of this life, one common theme remains: Korean-Americans are survivors.